Highlands Trail #9: Ryker Lake

~4 hours, ~4 miles, moderate

Hike #9: Say goodbye to Pequannock and the need for a hiking permit

Huge ups to Frank Vonderlinden for joining me on this hike. Despite his early trepidations about spending most of the winter on the couch and the gym being closed and work being slow and all this leading to potential muscle and joint fatigue and him maybe consequently having to get helicoptered out of the woods, he kicked some highlands ass out there. And he came equipped with his own hiking stick. And he came with a car, which meant no need for Lyft or Uber. Crucial.

This is where we dropped off Frank's truck, in Mahlon Dickerson Reservation. Great port-o-john to relieve yourself before you go to the starting point. Enter Mahlon Dickerson Reservation into Google Maps.  This will get you within 1 mile of the entrance. Watch out for bow hunters. 

 enter here from Weldon Road

enter here from Weldon Road

 watch out for bow hunting unless it is Sunday

watch out for bow hunting unless it is Sunday

This is where we left my car and started hiking. It's at the end of Rock Lodge Pond Road. You know it by now.

Check your compass. Make sure you are headed southwest'ish. If you don't want to check your compass, just head straight into the woods.

Some muck along the way

 you come from this

you come from this

Frank is a stone mason, an expert at all things house and stone. As we hiked, more than a few times, he looked at the hundreds of millions of years old rocks scattered along cliffs and forest floors and talked excitedly about rock harvesting. I have no idea what that is, but it sounded illegal, though potentially very profitable.

 tough and ruggedly handsome, how they make them in north jersey

tough and ruggedly handsome, how they make them in north jersey

Take note of this majestic beech along the way. Nod your head to it, show mad respect.

 When raining, the bark will absorb the water and be much darker

When raining, the bark will absorb the water and be much darker

Keep following the trail southwest, then southeast, until you reach Ryker Pond.

There is a fantastic spot for a snack along the way. You will also feel compelled to meditate.

 thinking about whether or not the camera took the shot yet

thinking about whether or not the camera took the shot yet

This is Frank getting up from the bench where he meditated for 97 straight minutes. Look at serenity personified.

 Notice how the gloves are contractor gloves. #badass

Notice how the gloves are contractor gloves. #badass

 Like most whittlers I know, Frank is a big showoff

Like most whittlers I know, Frank is a big showoff

Amazing hemlocks along the way:

Crossing over Glen Road, AKA, Ridge Road, AKA Route 620

You don't need redwoods and rock canyons when you have this:

 Highlands National Park, people, let's do it!

Highlands National Park, people, let's do it!

Once you get into Mahlon Dickerson, you will eventually intersect with the blue trail

 blue trail under the highlands trail

blue trail under the highlands trail

then pass the red trail

IMG_1947.JPG

You'll reach a small parking area at Sparta Mountain Road, keep on trucking

 Frank pretending to read something while he surreptitiously squeezes in a breather

Frank pretending to read something while he surreptitiously squeezes in a breather

Needed a good lunch spot, so we took a detour to pine swamp. This is on the white trail and not too far away. This a fully authorized detour from the highlands trail, authorized by the board of directors of the Highlands Endeavor.

 this is where you have lunch, overlooking a pine forest and swamp

this is where you have lunch, overlooking a pine forest and swamp

+boomerang of frank walking

These must be great in the summer, these rhodedendron paths:

On your way back, look out for the cow's head

and amoeba tree

and the pink trail

And you're back to your car now

Oh yeah, for sure, we enjoyed the experience. Thank you, Morris County Park Commission. MCPR in the hizzouse.

Complement your highbrow reading here with NY/NJ trail conference map 126